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Harley-Davidson launches eight new models?

Big Bear Lake Milwaukee Eight

Harley-Davidson is expected to launch eight new models tomorrow at the dealer conference in Pasadena, California.

The American company unveils its models at its annual dealer conference, followed by a media launch.

We have been invited on the 480km motorcycle-media launch next week from Pasadena to Big Bear Lake and back.

Why do we think there will be eight new models?

Three reasons:

  1. This is usually the last release of models before the northern winter;
  2. Company boss Matt Levatich earlier this year said HD would release 100 new models in the next 10 years which means 10 a year; and
  3. Since his statement, they have only released two new models – the “new” Road King Special and 750 Street Rod.

The most recent two new models are just styling updates of existing models, so we could expect much of the same tomorrow.

Most companies do likewise. For example, there have been nine models of Ducati Scrambler, but only two frames and three engines, while BMW’s popular R nineT has four models, but only one engine and frame.

Anyway, all will be revealed here at lunchtime tomorrow, including the Australian prices.

However, the Trikes are not included in the new models. They have already been confirmed to finally arrive in the Australian market in October.

The Tri-Glide Ultra will cost $50,995 rideaway and the Freewheeler $40,250.

Milwaukee Eight tip

Our tip for the eight new Harleys is that the Milwaukee Eight engine from the Touring range will be introduced to the Dyna and/or Softail range.

There are currently five Dyna models, so even if they all fit the Milwaukee Eight V-twin, we should expect some Softails to also get it.

Harley Milwaukee Eight engine goes black with 2017 FLHRS Road King Special Touring bagger leak
Milwaukee Eight

There are eight Softail models, so they could all get the bigger 107-cube (1750cc) engine in a mix of chromed and blacked-out versions like the above in the new Road King Special. 

Matt says the company’s “innovative” 2018 model-year motorcycles will provide a lift in sales.

Harley certainly needs the lift as their full-year bike sales and profit margins are expected to fall 6-8% in the full financial year after a 10-20% drop in this quarter.

They now expect to ship 241,000 to 246,000 motorcycles in 2017, compared with 262,221 last year. The company had previously forecast shipments to be “flat to modestly down”.

That’s a far cry from the nearly 350,000 it shipped annually before the Global Financial Crisis.

Other model tips

It is also believed the new Dyna and Softail range will get the Milwaukee Eight engine from the Touring family.

The Milwaukee Eight will come in three different capacities.

There is the 107 (1746cc) engine from the Touring range with 92.5hp (69kW) at 5000rpm, compared with the previous 1688cc Twin Cam’s EPA-rated 80.5hp (60kW) at 4000rpm.

From the CVO range comes the 114-cube 1868cc engine rated at 100.6hp (75kW) at 5000rpm compared with the current 1802cc engine’s 87.2hp (65kW) at 4000rpm.

And now there is a 117 (1923cc) engine pumping out 105bhp (78.3kW).

While the Dyna and Softail models will get the 107, a special Fat Bob will also come with a 114, the Touring family moves from a 107 to a 114 and the CVO range will get the new 117 engine.

Some experts are tipping that among the eight new models will be a new family of Dyna and Softail hybrids; perhaps Dynas with a hidden single shock or twin-shock Softails! Like this …

Harley-Davidson Dyna-Softail with Milwaukee Eight
Dyna-Softail mock-up

A Dyna/Softail hybrid would combine what some feel are the advantages of the two families.

It would have a rubber-mounted and unbalanced engine from the Dyna family, so it revs easier and vibrates with menace at idle. And with the new 107 this wouldn’t be quite as ridiculously vibey.

Yet, it would have the handling advantages of a mono shock over dual shocks and visually, the hidden shock would create a cleaner rear end.

The disadvantage would be that the Softails have a short shock so they run out of spring quickly. It might be ok for the concrete boulevards of LA, but you would easily hit the bump stops on craggy Aussie roads.

Also, to celebrate Harley’s 115th anniversary in 2018, there is expected to be a range of limited-edition anniversary models across most families.

Anniversary models include the CVO Ultra Limited, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Ultra Limited, Softail Breakout, Fat Boy S, Heritage Classic and Sportster Forty-Eight.

Or maybe it’s time to release the much-vaunted Livewire electric bike!

Harley-Davidson greenies eight
MBW riding the Harley LiveWire in LA

Whatever it is, we are in for a great ride.

Bikes heading to Big Bear Lake eight
MBW watches bikes heading to Big Bear Lake

Mrs MBW and I rode Victory Cross Country through the Big Bear Lake area in 2014 and found the roads extremely smooth and very twisty in places.

There were a heap of sports bikes there enjoying the challenge!

The roads won’t be much of a test for the ride comfort of the bikes, but they certainly will be a good test for the handling.

The invitation also suggests bringing wet gear because the weather can vary in the region.

I don’t know if I will bother since it will be scorching hot. As a Queensland rider, I find rain is nature’s own air-conditioning!